The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski reviewed

The Midnight Lie Book Cover The Midnight Lie
The Midnight Lie
Marie Rutkoski
Hodder & Stoughton
March 03, 2020

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski is about Nirrim. She is Half Kith and an orphan. She now works at an inn and bakery (& as a forger) for bed and board without pay. The phrase “It is as it is” is one used by people like Nirrim quite often. There are no questions like “Why”. The city is dark in places and the law such as it is has a disregard for those of lower status such as Nirrim. On the other hand High Kith can do what they like really. However Sid arrives. There have no travellers on this island and yet that is exactly what Sid is. When Nirrim meets Sid things begin to change.

There is so much I’d love to share about this book but that would simply dilute the journey for other readers and that would be sad. The gradual reveals about Sid and Nirrim, and her world, made for gently compulsive reading. I kept think – “just a little more and then I’ll put it down”. For the last quarter or so I stopped pretending and just kept reading!

The Midnight Lie itself (though bear in mind this is from a proof copy) from early in the book.
“It is a midnight lie, she said. A kind of lie told for someone else’s sake, a lie that sits between goodness and wrong, just as midnight is the moment between night and morning. Or a lie that is not technically false, like a misleading truth”.
As you read this there is an underlying tension – do we know all the “Midnight lies” that have been told – I doubt it…

Is this perfect – maybe not but so so readable and, for me, enchanting. Initially this feels like rather a soft fantasy book. There are no ghastly monsters, no spells being cast, no quest etc. However as the book progresses you realise that you just haven’t noticed the darkness and depth! The book allows you to watch the fading of innocence – quite uncomfortable. The story offers darkness, tension, lies and distrust. However it also offers light, love, revelation and beauty. The Midnight Lie is certainly one of the best books I’ve read this year. I found it fresh which I liked and so engaging – my real sadness was that it ended – this part at least.

I really don’t want to wait a year for the next part of this though I guess I will have to! However it has introduced me to a new fantasy writer which leaves me some other book from this author to explore while I’m waiting. Maybe this depends on what you want in your fantasy reading; for me this is somewhere between modern and classic fantasy. This may not suit everyone but I loved it.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review